Vanilla Ice’s performance Sunday in Galveston — a homecoming of sorts for the Dallas-born musician — was all about the memories.
“There’s something about Texas,” Vanilla Ice said. “It gets in your blood.”
The performance capped the Lone Star Rally, a four-day motorcycle festival that officials say brings about 250,000 motorcyclists and a half-million visitors to the island. It’s the largest-known four-day motorcycle rally in the country, organizers say.
“It’s amazing,” Vanilla Ice said of the rally. “I do a lot of these — like the Sturgis and one in Florida.”
Vanilla Ice and his crew took time during the rally to walk the streets of downtown Galveston and take in all the motorcycles, a particular treat as Vanilla Ice is a longtime Motocross aficionado, he said.
Visitors and fans attending Sunday’s concert were equal measures amused and excited by the presence of a childhood memory incarnate at one of Galveston’s biggest tourist events.
“It’s pretty cool,” Texas City resident Maria Notarnicola said. “I remember him from my childhood. Mostly from the Ninja Turtles song and Ice Ice Baby.”
The performer, known mostly for the hit song “Ice Ice Baby” and his performance in the 1990s movie “Ninja Turtles II,” was hoping to capitalize on fans like Notarnicola as part of his “I Love The 90s Tour.”
“I want to bring everyone back to the ’90s,” Vanilla Ice said. “Between 2000 and 2017, there’s nothing definitive, culturally. Which is not to say that there hasn’t been anything good, music-wise. But people remember the ’90s.”
For Vanilla Ice, visiting Galveston brought back memories of childhood trips to the island to escape what he said were larger crowds at South Padre Island.
“I come here and I think about Tex-Mex food and my mouth starts watering,” Vanilla Ice said.
Vanilla Ice was born Robert Matthew Van Winkle at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, he said.
With a brother in Houston and other friends and family in the area, Vanilla Ice said he expected a familial tint to Sunday’s audience, which was played to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims.
Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell and Councilwoman Amy Bly joined Vanilla Ice after Sunday’s performance to give him a key to the city for his efforts to help Harvey victims, Maxwell said.
“We haven’t given a key to the city to any musician since Bret Michaels was here about four or five years ago,” Maxwell said.
The two Galveston officials were excited to present the key, both having memories of listening to Vanilla Ice back in the early ‘90s.
“It’s Vanilla Ice,” Bly said. “He is who he is. Brian texted me and asked if I wanted to help give him a key to the city. I asked him if it was a joke. Yeah, absolutely.”
Galveston officials also hoped Vanilla Ice’s presence on the normally more lightly attended final day of the rally would increase turnout to the island, Maxwell said.
The rally in 2016 contributed about $115.6 million to Galveston’s economy, and about $113 million of that came indirectly through retail, food and lodging spending, according to an economic impact study.
“We’re working to increase Sunday for more of a local draw and more families,” Maxwell said.